Ottawa launched light rail service prematurely, builder says

Claim included in affidavit for court case to determine if Rideau Transit Group is in default of contract

An Ottawa light rail vehicle shows damage from the September 19 derailment that paralyzed the Confederation Line for 54 days. (Transportation Safety Board of Canada)

OTTAWA — The consortium that built and operates Ottawa’s ailing Confederation line of light rail transit says the city launched the service before it was ready and without consulting builders, according to a court document filed in a dispute between the city and the contractor.

The CBC reports Rideau Transit Group CEO Nicolas Truchon makes the claim in an affidavit filed with the Ontario Superior Court. The court is set to rule on a motion by the city that the transportation group is in default of its contract, which would allow Ottawa to terminate a 30-year maintenance contract worth more than a dollar. billion dollars.

Truchon’s affidavit says the city opened the line prematurely due to “intense political pressure” and “did not consult with either RTG or the construction contractor” before starting full service just two weeks after the official transfer from RTG to the city.

Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson said Wednesday he “fundamentally” disagrees with RTG’s description of events, saying “it was their decision and we obviously consulted with them.”

RTG argues that the city failed to follow the dispute resolution procedures set out in its contract and therefore the city’s motion should be stayed. Truchon’s affidavit also claims that the decision to go to court is politically motivated to distract from an investigation by the Province of Ontario into Confederation Line issues.

The city will respond with its own affidavit by March 14, a city official said.

Ontario announced plans for his investigation in the light rail system in November 2021, shortly after the end of a 54-day shutdown resulting from a derailment in September [see “After 54 days, Ottawa light rail service resumes,” Trains News Wire, Nov. 12, 2021].

Ottawa’s system has had a long history of problems since it went into service in 2019, including faulty doors, broken axles and cracked wheels.

Jose P. Rogers